Too lazy to get off the couch to get food? There’s an app for that
BY KASANDRA DASILVA
When Sam Keller moved to Toronto two years ago, he was amazed by all the food options the city had to offer. He began looking for office jobs online and says Just Eat, an online service that helps Canadians order delivery and takeout from local restaurants through its website and its app, looked like a cool environment, and that it was something he was interested in. Two years later, he is the company’s business development executive.
Just Eat, available for iPhones and Androids, allows businesses that wouldn’t normally be able to offer delivery through a mobile application, the opportunity to do so. The company’s biggest competition in Toronto would be Uber Eats, which uses a similar business strategy, but relies on its ride-sharing services to deliver food to customers.
Keller stands by the idea that using apps is the easiest way to order take out in the city right now.
“Rather than sorting through flyers, wondering what is open, or Googling restaurants and having to call them to place an order, you can have all of the information at your fingertips,” he says.
Keller says that anyone can put their postal code in the app and it will show all the restaurants that deliver in that area. The app posts the restaurants’ delivery menus online and the company has patented Just Eat devices at each food location to receive orders. “The easiest way to explain Just Eat is that we’re an aggregator of hungry customers to restaurants,” Keller says.
Until recently, getting food delivered was not as easy as it is today. This is because outside of major pizza chains like Pizza Pizza and Domino’s, few restaurants had online apps available to customers for easy use.
“Just Eat offers the widest selection of restaurants in Canada, spanning all cuisine types,” Keller says. “Among these restaurants you will find local heroes, like Salad King, local chains like Burger’s Priest, and national chain restaurants like KFC all offering delivery.”
Ordering food for delivery online is a rapidly growing market. According to the study ‘The Changing Market for Food Delivery’ by McKinsey and Company High Tech, 60 per cent more delivery orders in the U.S. will be placed by mobile apps than calling in orders in 2017.
The study also shows that apps like Just East and Uber Eats are worth over one billion dollars , and the industry continues to keep growing.
Toronto Popcorn Company is one of many local businesses that uses Just Eat and Uber Eats.
Joseph Villegas and his wife came to Canada in 2011 from the Philippines and started the company in 2013, aiming to bring their handmade unique popcorn flavours to festivals all over Ontario.
The company now has a flagship store in Toronto’s Kensington Market that houses almost 100 different flavours of popcorn. Teaming up with Just Eat and Uber Eats was a smart business decision, says Villegas.
“Marketing wise our business has improved, as Just Eat has done a great job promoting us,” he says.
Before teaming up with Just Eats and Uber Eats last year, Villegas used courier shipping and a 1-800 number for customers to order popcorn.
“We did independent deliveries ourselves and we work closely with a bunch of couriers. We continue to do it now for bigger orders and for our customers outside of the city,” says Villegas.
Villegas says that when they independently deliver it can take longer for a customer’s order to get to their door, but by using Just Eat and Uber Eats they can get their orders out faster.
“With Uber Eats, they have their drivers everywhere so they are always in the area for deliveries,” he says.
While Toronto Popcorn Company has been successful with these delivery services, for other businesses, particularly those outside of the city’s downtown core, there are some challenges.
Rob Federici is the owner of Ciao Roma, an authentic Italian pizzeria located in Woodbridge, Ontario, that became popular after being featured on the Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here. Federici says he heard about Uber Eats from friends, fellow restaurant owners and social media. Earlier this year, he decided to give it a try.
“We believed we would increase the amount of delivery orders we received by teaming up with a huge company such as Uber Eats,” he says.
Ciao Roma did offer delivery before partnering up with Uber Eats, but the service was limited.
“We advertised that we would do our best to accommodate delivery at a minimum order amount of $50 within Woodbridge, Maple and, Kleinburg,” he says.
Federici says that there has been a slight increase in delivery sales and that the word about the restaurant is getting out there, but he wishes Uber Eats could have a bigger delivery radius for their area.
“We recently discovered that the delivery radius is actually quite small so people who live in areas that we used to deliver to are not able to order through Uber Eats,” he says.
Despite the drawbacks of the small delivery area, he would suggest other restaurant owners to give food delivery apps a try.
“I definitely recommend the platform for delivery as it is extremely easy to use and very efficient.”
Say Hello to HelloFresh
The online food delivery industry extends beyond ordering take-out. Companies like German founded HelloFresh deliver ingredients to customers’ homes, along with recipes, to allow them to cook meals for themselves.
Irene Ngo has been part of HelloFresh since it launched in June 2016, and is the head of culinary. She is the one who controls what ingredients and recipes are delivered to customers. She oversees all recipe development and tests them all out before they hit their menu.
“Each week, we deliver three delicious, quick and seasonal recipes straight to your doorstep, along with the necessary ingredients, and all you do is have to press a few buttons on your computer or smartphone,” says Ngo.
Ngo says that HelloFresh is bringing the concept of “home-cooking” back into Canadian households at a time when many are living hectic on-the-go lifestyles with little time to plan home-made meals.
“We are able to offer a different kind of dinner-time solution. We understand that healthy eating patterns start in the home, and cooking is the best way to adopt good eating habits. Since we take care of the meal planning, shopping and delivery, we are able to eliminate a lot of the stress and uncertainty that can accompany the idea of home cooking,” says Ngo.
HelloFresh leaves its customers to do the fun parts: cooking and eating.
“There is a real sense of pride that develops when you can look at a meal you have made and think, ‘I made this,’” says Ngo.